Orthodox America


Commemorated April 12

In the early twelfth century, the principality of Murom-Ryazan, located within the northeastern reaches of Kievan Rus', was still largely pagan.

The efforts of Prince Constantine to convert the populace were futile. Some of the more fanatic pagans even plotted to kill him.  On learning of this the Prince prayed earnestly to God and, taking with him an icon of the Mother of God which he had brought from Kiev, he went out to confront the conspirators. The pagans were so overcome with awe at the sight of the Icon that they straightway begged forgiveness of the Prince and consented to be baptized.

The Murom Icon was glorified by many other miracles.  In the thirteenth century the saintly Bishop Basil of Murom was unjustly suspected of gross misconduct.   The people were so incensed that the bishop was in peril of his life.  After praying all night in the church of SS Boris and Gleb, he went to the Annunciation church and served a moleben before the Murom Icon.

Placing his hope in the divine assistance of the Mother of God, he took the Icon to the Oka River, spread his mantia on the waters and, holding the Icon, stepped onto his mantia as if it were a boat.  A strong wind carried the Saint upstream to Old Ryazan, where he was received with honor by the prince and the people.  Because the city was vulnerable to attacks by the Tartars, the Saint decided to seek a safer location and, in 1291, established his cathedra in New Ryazan, which became the permanent residence of his successors.  The Murom Icon was enshrined in the Nativity of Christ cathedral, where it was venerated down to the present century.

The Murom Icon bears resemblance to the Yakhrom Icon: the Christ Child is cradled on the left arm of the Mother of God; His right hand touches her chin, while His left hand hangs down holding a scroll representing the Scriptures.  In the Murom Icon, however, the head of the Christ Child leans back against the shoulder of His Mother, and the scroll is unwound to reveal the words, "I am the light of the world."

The Murom Icon was originally commemorated in the second week of the Apostles' Fast, but at the request of the people of Ryazan, its feast was later transferred by the Synod to April 12, the feastday of Bishop Basil.

Part of a series, to be published by Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society.